Activism includes a broad spectrum of actions that promote and develop change within society. Anyone can engage in activism, but what does it mean to have a career as an activist? These careers center on social justice, human rights, and change. A career activist doesn’t feel torn between the work that makes them money and the work that makes the world a better place. If you want to commit all your time and energy to activism, what types of jobs support that goal? Here are the top 10 activism careers available these days:
Social workers guide people through the challenges of life. Categories of social work include families, schools, mental health, health care, and children. Tasks can include helping a client get treatment for substance abuse or providing financial resources for families. At its core, social work is about making life easier for people who need help. Social workers are problem-solvers and can make a big difference in the lives of vulnerable populations.
For education, a social worker can get a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related area, like sociology. Depending on the job, you might a master’s degree or an advanced MSW degree for clinical social work. Other requirements include supervised fieldwork or an internship and a license. The median annual salary is just over $49,000.
Fundraisers work for political campaigns, charitable organizations, foundations, and so on. They’re responsible for raising funds and organizing donations. This can entail developing campaigns and events that get the attention of potential donors. Organizations often directly hire a fundraiser, or a fundraiser might come in from a consulting firm. When working for an organization engaged in activism, a fundraiser plays a huge role in how effective that organization is.
Fundraisers typically have a bachelor’s degree in business or communications, but any bachelor’s degree is acceptable. Some schools offer master’s degrees in fundraising or philanthropy, but most organizations won’t require a master’s. Experience is often more important than a specific degree. Volunteering or working at a nonprofit is highly valued. The average salary for a fundraiser is around $46,000-$56,000, depending on the scale of the organization.
NGO project manager
NGO project managers aren’t that different from regular project managers. Their responsibilities include developing, approving, and implementing projects that support the work of the NGO. As a leader, an NGO project manager must have excellent communication and facilitation skills. They’re always seeking out new information about the issues the NGO focuses on and finding effective solutions.
This career requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Any subject related to business is probably best, but like many activism jobs, experience is usually more important. Organizations will look for candidates with skills like communication and management, as well as leadership backgrounds. According to Zip Recruiter, the average salary for an NGO project manager in the US was around $78,700.
A branch of social work, a community organizer brings a community together to solve problems. This means engaging citizens and encouraging them to become more active in the processes that run their lives. Community organizers wear many hats and can be involved in fundraising, running meetings, and spreading awareness. Organizations of all kinds need community organizers whether they’re working for criminal justice reform, a higher minimum wage, or environmental justice.
Oftentimes, an organization will not require a specific educational background. It helps to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to social work, social justice, and other public services. Experience and dedication will most likely take priority. People who want to become community organizers should volunteer as often as possible. In the US, the average salary is just over $41,000.
Legal injustices are one of the most common and devastating types of social injustice. If someone is passionate about this area, becoming a legal professional is a great way to turn activism into a career. Vulnerable populations such as immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, and the incarcerated are frequently in need of legal assistance. A legal professional engages in activism by focusing on these groups. They keep their services affordable or free and spread awareness about problems in the justice system.
There are a handful of job options in the law field. To become a paralegal/legal assistant, you’ll need either an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree combined with a paralegal certificate. The median salary is close to $51,000. To practice as a lawyer, you’ll need a law degree. The median salary for this career is close to $121,000. For legal professionals dedicated to activism and serving the underrepresented, the salary is likely to be on the lower end of the range.
While similar to a legal career, victim advocates focus on people. They are the liaison between the victim of a crime and the court. Advocates guide their clients through the system and provide emotional support and resources as needed. This means having an in-depth knowledge of how the court system works and what’s available for their clients. The goal is to protect the client as much as possible and ensure they get the justice they deserve.
Victim advocates can be hired by nonprofits, police departments, prosecutor offices, and criminal courts. This career requires a bachelor’s degree in a field like social work or criminal injustice. A master’s degree is usually preferred. Experience is also valuable. The median salary for this career is around $49,000.
Organizations need solid research on which to base their operations. Good research directs them to the issues that need addressing first and guides decision-making. Researchers are responsible for gathering this information, analyzing it, and presenting it in a way that makes sense to everyone within the organization. A big part of activism is simply drawing attention to an issue and that’s what good research does. Researchers are also part of the process of solving problems, as well.
Starting out, a researcher will likely need a master’s degree and some experience. Top-tier researchers need doctorate degrees and years of experience. The specific degree depends on the area you want to focus on, but statistics is a solid subject that’s applicable anywhere. The average salary for a researcher in the social justice field is just over $60,000.
Social justice consultant
In general, a social justice consultant has a similar career path to any consultant. They focus on social justice issues like gender equality, race equality, and so on. These specialists can be independent or part of an organization that’s called into companies, schools, and other entities. A social justice consultant’s job is to present facts, facilitate discussions, and help an organization improve its policies.
For education, a social justice consultant will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Some organizations prefer a master’s. Experience is also very important and could include work in a nonprofit or years of experience as a volunteer. Skills like excellent communication, project management, and leadership are highly valuable. Consultants as a whole earn around $75,000 a year.
Social media expert
Social media has become one of the most powerful tools for activists. Organizations are now recognizing how important a strong social media strategy is for spreading awareness and sparking people into action. While a social media career barely existed ten years ago, it’s a field that’s growing very quickly. Responsibilities include developing content and campaigns and monitoring social media activity on an organization’s channels.
To become a social media expert, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a field like marketing, business, or communications. Experience with social media will also be necessary, especially in an activist capacity. The median salary is $60,000.
Good communication is one of the keys to good activism. Many organizations work with many languages or are based in different countries. A good translator can bridge language and cultural gaps with fluency and knowledge of dialects.
Professional translators need to be fluent in at least two languages. The specific languages vary depending on where you want to work. The more languages a translator is fluent in, the better for their career. Though you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in the language(s) of your choice, it can open up more career opportunities. In 2018, the median salary of interpreters and translators (in the US) was around $50,000.